How youth unemployment has risen under the coalition

The number of young people out of work has increased from 919,000 to 963,000 under the coalition.

A year on from their first press conference in the Rose Garden at No 10, David Cameron and Nick Clegg appeared together at an event on youth unemployment in Stratford today.

They announced the launch of a £60m employment programme and pledged to fund 250,000 more apprenticeships over the next four years, as well as 100,000 work placements over the next two years.

But is it too little, too late? As the graph below shows, youth unemployment among 16-to-24-year-olds, which was falling when Labour left office, has risen from 919,000 to 963,000 under the coalition, the highest level since records began.

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In opposition, the Conservatives rightly drew attention to Labour's failure to reduce the number of "Neets", young people not in education, employment or training. But in government, they have failed to improve on this performance. On the contrary, they have made a bad situation worse.

Since it came to power, the coalition has scrapped the Future Jobs Fund (described by Frank Field, the government's poverty adviser, as "one of the most precious things the last government was involved in"), abolished the Education Maintenance Allowance (EMA) and announced that it will offer 10,000 fewer university places next year. All of these measures are likely to make the jobs crisis worse.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tim Farron: Brexit and Conservative rule are not inevitable

The Liberal Democrat leader says his party can stop "two massive calamities". 

Parties working together is a good thing, I'm open about that.  But I genuinely think the most effective thing I can do, in order to make sure that there is a progressive alternative to Conservatives, is to build the Liberal Democrats. Doing that, that's what's cost the Tory Party the Richmond by-election, that's what's cost them dozens of council seats in the last year-and-a-half. That is actually at the moment, the only plausible route to there not being a Conservative majority.  I'll back that up by saying let's look at the alternatives.

The SNP cannot gain more than one seat off the Tories, so it can't be them. The Labour Party, the very fact that we're having this conversation is proof of the fact that nobody, but nobody, thinks the Labour Party is in any position to make net gains from the Tories at all.  So  we are living with a Tory government for as long as we can see into the future, unless the Liberal Democrats, through our route, are able to bash the Tories to below a majority.  That is the only plausible route at the moment, for Tories losing their majority.

So I am doing progressive politics the biggest favour I can by strengthening my party, making it more attractive to people who are currently maybe remain voting, pro-market, moderate Conservatives, not for the protectionist wing.  Because I think that Theresa May's got her own version of Momentum in taking over her party, just as ideological as the ones who run the Labour Party, by the way.  Indeed, of course, moderate people in the Labour Party as well, who feel that there must be an alternative to the Conservative government, particularly this Conservative government.

I often say that we face two massive calamities in this country. One is that we drop out of the European Union and the single market, with the enormous costs that will be for public services, quality of life, particularly for those on lower incomes, that's calamity number one. Calamity number two is a Tory government until I’m elderly, so a quarter of a century or something like that.

Now I always say that and then I follow it up by saying I'm not prepared to accept either of those inevitabilities. I believe that we are in the strongest position to be able to prevent both of them. So it's important you stare those threats in the face, acknowledge them as huge threats and then you're not a fatalist. You decide, right, I'm not having this, let's do something about it.

As told to George Eaton

Tim Farron is leader of the Liberal Democrats.

This article first appeared in the 30 March 2017 issue of the New Statesman, Wanted: an opposition